Wayfinder 63: Outrunning Hunger / Am I Old / Suicide Clusters

Proper Breathing Brings Better Health
Do you stop and assess your breath from time to time? How about your posture or your clenched jaw or furrowed brow? I usually don’t realize I’m tensing those little muscles behind my eyes, pressing my tongue up against the roof of my mouth, or keeping my breath shallow and short much of the time. These are all signals we give our body and brain that we are stressed out, causing multiple physiological reactions that over time negatively impact our health. Gentle yoga helps me remember what it feels like to breathe properly, as does my steady, rhythmic inhale-exhale when out on a run. — Susan

Even a rudimentary understanding of physiology helps to explain why controlled breathing can induce relaxation. Everyone knows that emotions affect the body. When you are happy, for instance, the corners of your mouth turn up automatically, and the edges of your eyes crinkle in a characteristic expression. Similarly, when you are feeling calm and safe, at rest, or engaged in a pleasant social exchange, your breathing slows and deepens. You are under the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces a relaxing effect. Conversely, when you are feeling frightened, in pain, or tense and uncomfortable, your breathing speeds up and becomes shallower. The sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s various reactions to stress, is now activated. Less well known is that the effects also occur in the opposite direction: the state of the body affects emotions. Studies show that when your face smiles, your brain reacts in kind—you experience more pleasant emotions. Breathing, in particular, has a special power over the mind.

Outrunning Hunger
The science explains why we're not hungry after an intense workout. I've had a hard time eating after an endurance workout for as long as I can remember, though the exception for myself has always been swimming. Swimming would make me eat the fattest burrito I could find as soon as possible. While the science explains the workings of not being hungry — neuropeptide Y (NPY) cells relay signals encouraging the body to seek food, while the pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons countermand those orders, reducing interest in food — it doesn't explain the reason for this occurrence. If recovery fueling is important after intense exercise why is our hunger naturally reduced? — Paul

Swimming Workouts to Build Running Endurance
Speaking of swimming, here are tips and reasons to consider getting into the pool as an effective cross training option.

Adventure Couple Charted and Hiked 2,600-mile Loop Through the Pacific Northwest
Ras and Kathy Vaughan, also known as the UltraPedestrians, created a new thru-hike route which traverses and connects parts of Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, the Oregon Desert Trail and the Idaho Centennial Trail. The 2,600-mile route labeled the UP North Loop took them a year to research and prepare, then 174 days, 22 hours and 25 minutes to complete.

The Suicide Clusters That Threaten Mountain Towns
A small mountain town mourns the passing of a beloved athlete, coach, and friend. Kate Siber tells the story and investigates suicide, the connection with high altitude playgrounds, and how the community of Durango, CO is coming together to reverse the rising rates of suicide.

Theories abound as to why these towns are affected, though they remain speculation. Like Durango, these are places where the cost of living is high, good jobs are scarce, and people are financially stressed. There are fewer mental health resources than one would find in a big city. (It’s common for parents to find that every child therapist in town is booked and not taking new clients.) Others blame the play-hard, party-hard vibe in idyllic mountain towns that can lead to substance abuse (a risk factor for suicide), as well as social media, the culture of relentless athletic one-upmanship, and the obsessive pursuit of fun.

The CDC estimates that for every one completed suicide, there are approximately three hospitalizations, nine emergency room visits, 27 non-medically treated attempts, and more than 200 people who experience suicidal ideation.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 16.2 million adults—or 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population—experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2016.

Olympic champ Pendleton opens up about depression, suicidal thoughts
Getting help from a friend and taking a surf trip to Costa Rica helped her turn the corner, illustrating again the healing power of connection and nature.

Am I ‘Old’?
As I approach my fifties I compulsively consider these topics. My goal being to stay 'young', embrace the moving the target of 'old', or better yet, not need to consider the question at all. — Paul

Factors such as life expectancy, personal health, cognitive function and disability rates all play a role, he said, and today’s 65-year-old is more like a 55-year-old from 45 years ago.

Other friends pointed to various physical milestones as the visible line in the sand. A colleague posted: “When you can’t jog a 15-minute mile.” Another friend said, “When I have to stop playing tennis.” Others ominously noted cognitive benchmarks: “When you stop being interested in new information and experiences.” Many focused on “memory issues” as defining the onset of old.

Root Vegetable Soup With Healing Spices
An anti-inflammatory and warming blend of winter root veggies and spices for winter woes, from naturalepicurean.com. Of course, using fresh, unprocessed and unpackaged foods are ideal (the original version uses onion, kabocha squash, sweet potato and carrots), when we’re traveling it’s not exactly practical. Here is my less-prep and easy clean-up version. — Susan

Whisk together and simmer on low heat for 20-30 min (or less if using propane camping stove because that’s a lot of propane), and taste as you go:

  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • Combination of water/almond (or coconut, or cashew) milk whisked in until I like the consistency
  • Pre-mixed ground curry spice blend, maybe garam-masala or Chinese 5-spice if I have it
  • Cayenne (I like spice in everything)
  • Himalayan pink sea salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Maybe a few drops of stevia - but the ginger tends to sweeten it up a bit!
  • Top with pepitas if I have them (for crunch), Sriracha if still not spicy enough, maybe a greek yogurt swirl.